Humor of Words Confused in German
Humor of Words Confused in German by Mark Twain is adapted from his book A Tramp Abroad :
I suppose that in all languages the similarities of look and sound between words which have no similarity in meaning are a fruitful source of perplexity to the foreigner.
It is so in our tongue,
and it is notably the case in the German.
Now there is that troublesome word VERMAEHLT:
to me it has so close a resemblance—either real or fancied—to three or four other words (in German),
that I never know whether it means despised, painted, suspected, or married;
until I look in the dictionary,
and then I find it means the latter (married).
There are lots of such words and they are a great torment.
To increase the difficulty
there are words which SEEM to resemble each other, and yet do not;
but they make just as much trouble as if they did.
there is the word VERMIETHEN (to RENT, to lease, to let);
and the word VERHEIRATHEN (another way of saying to MARRY).
I heard of an Englishman who knocked at a man's door in Heidelberg
and proposed, in the best German he could command, to "VERHEIRATHEN" (MARRY) that HOUSE.
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